With any long-term/chronic illness there are the obvious physical symptoms and the hidden psychological symptoms. My illnesses are no exception. Ten years of being sick definitely takes a toll on you mentally.
In late 2009 I was sent to see someone – can’t remember her actual title but she was a shrink of sorts. My GP at the time was well aware of my family medical history and thought I should go see this woman to work out essentially what sort of depression I had. Going in to session #1 I was a bit nervous but generally ok. Basically all we did was discuss my background in no more detail than what would appear on my resume. Session #2 I was less nervous so I smiled at her when she called me in. We finished off my “resume” and she said that I was fine and sent me on my way.
For starters…I was not fine. In the space of 2 weeks I’d returned home from 6.5 months overseas, whilst still jet lagged I was dumped and told I had no job, my nan passed away and I was rapidly losing my friends. But I wasn’t asked about any of this by the shrink. It was touched on briefly but I wasn’t asked the classic “how does that make you feel?”.
Needless to say – this put me off shrinks! Bugger these “professionals” – I was going to do it alone!
So, 4 years on and still sick, I’ve continued to avoid professional psychological help. That is, until now.
Triggered by another problem which I won’t go into, my partner and I signed up for a mental health first aid course (https://www.mhfa.com.au/cms/). In doing the course I’ve come to notice my own mental health problems which have come about mostly from being physically ill. So this, along with my seemingly endless tears over the smallest things, has led me to going to my new GP for a referral to a shrink. I did a mental health plan a few months ago, but chickened out due to my previous experience and went on to lose the referral I’d been given.
But now, finally, I’m booked in. In 2 weeks I have my first session.
I know that the first step to overcoming a mental illness is recognising there is a problem and seeking help, but I still can’t help but feel like I’ve failed and that I’m not as strong as everyone else. For this – I blame society and the media.
There is too much of a bad stigma around mental health which is ridiculous considering how common it is. I’m going to try and help break that stigma by talking about my own mental health journey. I would also recommend doing a mental health first aid course. You’ll not only learn how to help others, but you will also pick up a few tips for yourself.
This is my ramble for now. Until next time…look after yourselves!